Will a Pacifier Disrupt My Baby's Sleep? And How Can I Wean My Toddler From a Pacifier?
By: Brittany Sheehan of Bicoastal Baby B.
Will using a pacifier disrupt my baby's sleep? And how can I wean my toddler off the pacifier when it comes time for that? There are so MANY questions when it comes to pacifiers!
If you ask most parents who have pacifier lovin' babies, they will tell you they are “lifesavers.” Pacifiers a soothing mechanism — the less a baby cries, the easier they can stay asleep. Pacifiers also help babies cope with colic and reflux and when it comes to sleep safety, pacifiers specifically are thought to decrease the risk of SIDS. Since there is such a strong parallel between pacifier use and sleep, we wanted to hear from a sleep consultant more about pacifiers and possible benefits.
There are many benefits to using a pacifier for babies.
The biggest benefit is simply that it’s an excellent soothing mechanism, especially for fussy babies and those with painful infant reflux or colic. Pacifiers are also thought to help decrease the risk of SIDS. This does not mean you need to panic if your newborn doesn’t like their paci. But, it's extra reassurance if they do.
Oftentimes I have newborn clients who are concerned that introducing a paci will impact their baby’s ability to breastfeed properly. Great news - ”Nipple Confusion” is not a thing. Please do not be afraid to give your newborn a paci because you think it will hinder their ability to nurse. It won’t!
Newborn parents are also often hesitant to introduce a paci because they’re afraid their baby will become too dependent on it. The truth is, this is impossible to predict. Some children do become quite attached and parents have to go through the process of removing the paci during the toddler years. But this is absolutely not a given. Many babies naturally wean themselves off of the paci in the first few months of life, especially as they’re going through the process of learning to self soothe and sleep.
Independently. Another frequent challenge parents face is what I like to call “the paci dance” – you put the paci in, it falls out, baby cries, you pop it back in, it falls out, baby cries, you pop it back in….you get the picture! There are actually things you can do to help your baby get past this stage. Around 6-8 months, babies typically develop the motor skills required to replace their own paci.
You can teach them to do it themselves by gently guiding their hands to the paci and placing it into their mouth. If a baby can replace their own paci, but seems to lose it at night, try putting several pacis in the crib for them to grab!
Toddlers and Pacifiers.
On the other end of the spectrum, parents of toddlers often ask when and how they need to give up the paci. Bottom line, It’s a personal choice, but by age 3 is strongly suggested to avoid an impact on your child’s teeth.
If your toddler is reluctant to give up their paci, it’s time to introduce them to The Paci Fairy! The Paci Fairy is always looking for brave boys and girls to give their pacis to a baby in need. Think of a friend or family member (or even a character on TV!) with a new baby and explain to your child that pacis are for babies and this baby doesn’t have any. The Paci Fairy will come pick them up, and rumor has it......the next morning, there will be a fun gift for toddler from the baby who was so lucky to “receive” their new pacis!
Pro tip – make sure you actually DO get rid of all of them. Don’t leave yourself the option to give the paci back in a tough moment “just this once”. Once they are gone, they are GONE!